MIPI Alliance releases I3C interface specification

January 13, 2017 // By Peter Clarke
The MIPI Alliance Inc. (Piscataway, New Jersey) industry consortium has released the specification for the Improved Inter-Integrated Circuit – or I3C – a sensor interface specification.

The I3C supersets the I2C specification and streamlines sensor integration in smartphones, wearables, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and automotive systems.

The standard specifies a single two-wire serial bus for MIPI a chip-to-chip interface that can connect all sensors in a device to the application processor. It is implemented on standard CMOS I/O and achieves clock rates up to 12.5MHz and provides options for higher performance, high-data rate modes. It uses a fraction of the power while providing more than an order of magnitude the bandwidth compared to I2C.

The specification supports several sensor classifications and functions. Examples include accelerometers, touch screens, time-of-flight cameras, sonic/ultrasonic sensors, transducers, actuators and others. MIPI I3C also supports a range of biometric sensors and environmental sensors and can be used to interface sensors used for near-field communications, haptics feedback, and infrared or ultraviolet sensing.

And although MIPI I3C was originally developed to meet the needs of sensor applications, it can also be applied to any low-to-medium bandwidth devices benefitting from integrated data and control via byte-based transmission. Examples would include power management and control.

In addition I3C will be used as basis of two further MIPI specifications under development; MIPI Touch and MIPI Debug for I3C.

Most types of I2C devices can co-exist with I3C on the same bus so vendors can migrate current I2C designs to I3C. Similarly newly-designed I3C devices work on legacy I2C buses.

"We expect MIPI I3C will play a fundamental role in expanding opportunities for sensor-based applications in mobile, mobile-influenced and embedded systems markets," said Joel Huloux, chairman of MIPI Alliance, in a statement.

The I3C interface was developed by a working group that included participation by engineers from Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., Analogix Semiconductor, Inc., Cadence Design Systems, Inc., Google, Inc., Intel Corporation, Knowles Electronics, Lattice Semiconductor Corp., MediaTek Inc., NXP Semiconductor, Qualcomm Incorporated, QuickLogic, Sony Corporation, STMicroelectronics, Synopsys Inc. and others.

Related links and articles:

www.mipi.org

MIPI Alliance: